Mirror for Princes (a perfume ad)

Seth Wang

I am attempting to binge-eat the last bag of Papà’s fancy prunes
—the ones specially airconcierged from Damascus to imbue his stool with the suppleness of 10th century ecclesiastical samite, the forbidden ones he keeps combination-locked in a refrigerated vault, the ones which begot a total Adult Baby/Diaper Lover meltdown when they were discontinued last month, those pruneson an autumnal summer night in the taiga surrounding an “infinity pool” (read: abattoir) on the grounds of some dead nobody pedophile’s mid-century fauxcoco fuck-dacha (in one-hundo-percent-literal Siberia!)which Papà has rich-people-AirBnB’d to host our family’s fake vacation, a cover-up for my month-long convalescence from one of those chichi little gastric bypass/face augmentation/nose job bundles, my 18th birthday present from Papàwhen my phone buzzes with a message from the copromanic prune-hoarder himself, the sender reading not “Papà” but “Roddin[sic]Enthusiast,” his name on the pretentious statuephilia fetish site where he’s been corresponding with one xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx, a 21-year-old catboy who wants to be a bronze doré replica of youngerGeefs bro Jozefs church-comissioned twink-Lucifer sculpture (so much better than Guillaume’s), a lifelong fantasy that will come true tonight when xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx meets, and is subsequently offed, by my at-last-homicidal Papà. The twist here is that xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx, like, cest moi. Which is to say xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx is a complete non-entity in the ontological or whatever sense. Read these coquettishly bandaged lips: xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx aint real. In other words, when my catfished poseur of a Papà shows up erelong, I, I, am the only one he’ll find having a moonlit skulk like an Elizabethan revenge tragedy bastard, suffering the innumerable indignities of Outside, soiling my oversized midnight-teal Italian acetate-viscose satin Margiela womenswear pajamas—except, get this, he won’t know it’s me. Oh, don’t be crude. By soiling I mean I’m staining irreversibly the knee-and-elbow areas of the Margiela by crouching on all fours, the pilgrim-buckled toes of my lambsblood Junya Watanabe antipapal loafers uprooting fairy circles of bisque-colored baby champignons, while I train a pair of military-grade-night-vision-retrofitted periwinkle-and-matte-silver antique enamel Alphonse Mucha opera glasses—for which I blackmailed the only non-(full)-blood-related woman I’ve ever loved—on the pink marble tiles of the infinity pool-cum-abattoir where Papà intends to bronze-cast xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx alive. I take out my phone to see what pompous dogshit Roddin[sic]Enthusiast has messaged “him” now. But because my pastel taupe ruched Miu Miu leather gloves are famously touchscreen-unfriendly, my phone drops facedown onto the permafrosted peat, forcing me to perform an elaborate one-handed disglove, which not only looks extremely cool but also allows me to fetchingly display my custom Michèle Lamy sky-burial mourning bracelet as I rescue, then unlock, the phone in one fist-bitingly suave flourish. I now adopt a slouchy contrapposto which doesn’t obscure the line. I prepare to read Papà’s undoubtedly fucktarded missive when my phone buzzes again. This time, it’s the latest emotionally laborious plea from the anhedonic 34-year-old purple-hair-stripey-socks fujoshi, Libby, who thinks I’m Silas (née Doug), a ring/sword/ponytail guy of a certain age who’s taken his vampire cosplay full-time since he was let go from his substitute Honors English gig. Not now, kitten, Daddy’s busy; he’ll give notes on your Adult YA mythpunk campus novel’s 11th hour game-changing Mpreg scene later I type, without reading what she said. I begin to choke as I press send, an accidental drool emoji totally undermining the cryotherapeutic insouciance of my neg, because one of Papà’s prunes has reversed direction in my esophagus. This is quite the immediate problem, I must say. Having been placed on a strict post-procedure diet of savory mousses and meal-replacement affogatos, I am bandaged such that my jaw can only unhinge insofar as to insert a duck-billed metal straw. But of course Adderall-congested little Adrian (the aforementioned little moi), with his male bulimia and au-pair’s-pet hubris, just had to stick it to the surgeons and prematurely introduce solid food by throat-kegeling an entire prune down his newly stapled gullet, where it’s rapidly rehydrating to full-size. And there’s nary a soul around to answer my Heimlich-maneuver-summoning bell. You see, you can only get to the pool/abattoir from the main road through an insanity-inducing eight-hour hike. One story goes, that in the ‘90s, whilst attempting a raid on the fuck-dacha, two FBI agents took a wrong turn through a weird gate and were found three days later, trying to turn each other into human chandeliers. So what did Papà do but give xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx the most loquaciously unintelligible directions. If xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx were real, he’d have said Nah, fuck that, and gone home at once. Luckily for me, Papà also spelled out his plan, kill-site included, in laughably obvious riddles on his serial killer “roleplay” forum, where for the past three years I’ve been pretending to be these two guys: the former a compulsive devil’s advocate/sadistic grammar pedant who heckles Papà’s posts, the latter a silent lurker who favorites then unfavorites, at unsettling hours, Papà’s furiously impotent retorts. And to get to the pool/abattoir from the main manor, tee hee, all one has to do is press a certain combo of glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling, which opens the shelf displaying the unread first-edition Bataille collection onto the indoor moat with the high-speed gondola ferried by the faceless but still underage-looking robo-gondolier who serenades you with a Phantom of the Opera medley, set to theremin accompaniment and transposed to mezzo-castrato range. It occurs to me, as I continue fruitlessly unchoking myself, that perhaps Papà gave xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx impossible directions on purpose. That is, perhaps Papà is chickening out, as usual. Perhaps I’ve defected from the exquisitely room-temperate bosom of my Jenny de Rahden-print Mongolian cashmere Hermès horse blanket, unhitched myself from the Fabergé wire-mother of my showpony-grade ketamine IV, and endangered my new nose, all to virginally choke to death, alone, Outside, in some random taiga in the bumfuck Altai Mountains, beneath a celestially inauspicious (if admittedly slimming) waxing gibbous. But I calm down and quickly dismiss this possibility. I have good reason to believe I’ve finally cracked Papà’s victim profile, besides which there’s an easy solution to the prune. Reaching under my trompe l’oeil lapels, I take out my replica poison-rosary/coke-spoon (please: Lucrezia Borgia, not Kathryn Merteuil), and mix the good shit with the contents of a gold-and-alligator Cartier bracelet-flask which once belonged to Barbara Daly Baekeland—rewards, both, from Papà, for taking his side during two particularly attritive wars with Mom. I forget what the Lucrezia fight was about, something stupid, something about how they’d gratuitously overbribed to get the charges dropped against somebody for shoplifting at the Yohji Yamamoto pop-up boutique in the Vatican, or whatever. But the Barbara, I distinctly remember, was because Papà was displeased by Mom’s over-dinner impression of Bitsi, her on-and-off childhood best friend, whom she’s considered her sworn enemy ever since the woman took one couples workshop on love languages in Bora Bora and started giving unsolicited “pro-tips” on how to improve my parents’ relationship, “babybirding me little amuse-bouches of shit,” as Mom put it during one of our enboudoired party postmortems, allowing me to paint her toes smoked ochre and Marian blue. I say “party,” but no social occasion was too small to trigger a postmortem. After sharing a couple lines of my prescription painkiller cocktail, we’d subject the losers of the debutante brunch we’d crashed, or the money-laundering film premiere we’d deigned to attend, or the brutal post-PTA-meeting mom-dick-measuring contest at my brother Philippe’s Upper East Side private remedial school for exceedingly naughty boys, to a round of shit-talking, which always included several merciless impressions. I say “Mom and I,” but really, she was the star. It was her job to do her thing, and mine to applaud. Although both my parents do absolutely vicious impressions of people, Papà is the hotel-caged method diva, momentarily inhabiting your emotional truth to play whatever stupid thing you just said back to you, while Mom is the shiv-carrying street mime, which is the nice way of saying that while she’ll otherwise straight-up fucking ream you oratorically, Mom just cannot do voices. Instead, she inflates your tells, your nervous tics, your defensive postures until she’s showing you your inner child. In public, of course, she did the socially acceptable thing, which was shank someone mid-conversation with an exaggeration of a goofy lip-bite or grovelly twitch they thought they’d exorcized in therapy decades ago, before moving on like nothing happened. Only during our postmortems did she bust out the mime performances, doing physical caricatures of people for five, six, seven minutes at a time. Because it was just us, this wasn’t cringe the way it’d be in public, and I let myself go during the applause, clapping like a malnourished pygmy marmoset in a Pierrot onesie, laughing in that obsequious late-night host way particular to Mom’s most obviously gay sidepieces, and unlike those guys, I maybe even meant it. So I guess you could argue it’s partially my fault for what happened next. This was during Family Dinner, a few months after Bitsi and hubby’s Bora Boran adventure. Family Dinner is never just family; there’s also the rival cliques of Lapdogs, Teething Jewels and Pubic Lice that follow us around, whom we refer to, collectively, as the Mephitis. This makes for very complicated seating etiquette indeed, which Grandmama (Papà’s Mama) uncomplicated by arranging the Mephitis around our family in concentric circles according to how many of our inside jokes they can convincingly pretend to understand. Usually, it’s a bloodbath, but that night, I remember feeling an unusual, almost physical sense of balmy plugged-in-ness, with my parents, my siblings, even with the Mephitis, unusual not just because I was only on half my usual dessert-time dose of Ativan, but because I knew that everyone else was feeling it too, mesmerized by the tactility of...I guess you could call it a sort of mass hysteria of anti-spite, people keeping their various rhetorical torture devices tucked inside their cheeks, sucking on them like candy, content with simply tonguing and retonguing their destructive potential. I was facing away from Mom when it happened. All I saw was that incredible inner-sanctum view of a domino effect of Mephitis-dwellers becoming increasingly less certain why they were making faces of contempt. If you’ve ever watched a Caravaggio get authenticated, it’s not like that but it is also and equally not not like that. Honestly, I’m surprised I remember this much, given how tranquilized I was at that age. I mean, this was around the time I discovered Papà’s travel blog, the one disguised extremely poorly as Gilles des Rais fanfiction, in which he penned tedious complaints about restaurants and hotels we’d patronized, interspersed with graphic play-by-plays of murders, all written in his godawful (not to mention disgustingly anachronistic) pastiche of 15th century French, this odious lisping cursive like a Jacobean Pepé Le Pew, each entry always accompanied by the last known photo of a boy, a boy who’d gone missing around wherever we’d stayed, a boy just a few years older than me, a boy who never looked like much. Seriously, they were all complete dweebs and boners, greasy-clean, skinny-fat, twitchy-looking forgettables whose social media revealed nothing besides that the poors have weird interests too. Their one common trait was they all had these perfect little Peter Pan noses, the ones that look even fey-er and pert-er when covered with a skinny gurokawaii bandaid, you know the sort of proboscises I mean. Unrelatedly, I also began to have trouble sleeping—night terrors, wetting the bed, sleep paralysis—“the whole kit and caboodle,” in the words of the celebrity-child psychiatrist who liked to begin our appointments with tasting flights of the latest designer benzos. Because of this, that entire year is a blur, except for the night I earned the Barbara Daly Baekeland Cartier bracelet-flask. I’ll never forget the impudent purr of some cousin’s Pubic Louse, a grotesque hunk Frankensteined together from sundry ugly-hot ‘90s erotic thriller male leads: “Dude, is that your mom?” Or how the slow horrible journey of my head seemed sliced into frames, all of which I could feel—like that one oft-homaged Damien Hirst homage in Tarsem Singh’s The Cell (2000), or perhaps salviaas I turned to face Mom, knowing she’d be doing her five-minute rendition of Bitsi, not even aware everyone was looking at her, so engrossed was she in her performance for a dead-eyed Lapdog. Something flickered, peripherally. Who but Papà. Our eyes met. Unseen by everyone else, he moved a couple muscles of his face, but it was all he needed to communicate that somehow he’d been watching the enboudoired party postmortems, that he was going to defuse the situation with a perfect impression of my Mommy-love-me routine—unless, that is, I showed Mom, right then and there, why she would never humiliate him with her cringey mime performances ever again. (I inherited Mom’s nose and Papà’s impressions, let’s leave it at that.) The next morning, the Barbara was mine. It’s contained every color of emetic ever since, a mood ring, if you like, and tonight I’m feeling a “candied” violet. It tastes like a little amuse-bouche of shit, but as the prune begins vibrating to start its ascent, prune-chunks spraying my uvula, my phone buzzes again. This one’s from Brother Amon, the pianist-fingered, Jesus-bearded Saint Sebastian Archabbey head apiarist who believes I’m a passively suicidal associate professor of art history specializing in Fayum mummy portraits, and who is also my best friend on earth. The message says that Brother Amon was reminded of the passively suicidal associate professor when he was enjoying the Qatsi trilogy, as per their conversation about Philip Glass, that he didn’t know why (semi-colon and closing parentheses indicating cheeky facetiousness), but he had a sneaking suspicion the passively suicidal associate professor would enjoy Paul Schrader’s Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), whose Glass score was positively “rapturous,” a copy of which he’d smuggled into one of the Saint Sebastian secret cinema club’s bi-monthly root-cellar screenings, and that if the passively suicidal associate professor would be so kind as to bless him with his mailing address, he’d receive the contraband Schrader DVD in question, plus a care package containing a miscellany of soothing beeswax wellness products hand-mixed by Brother Amon himself. My heart quickens at the prefix bi. Also because my oxygen’s cut off, a direct result of the prune’s meteoric rise through my newly halved nasal cavity. The direness of the situation forces me to resort to plan b, currently sheathed inside my shoe, which has shapeshifted magical-girl-transformation-sequence style from the Junya Watanabe loafers to black knee-high logo-embossed Renaissance assassin boots by Telfar, my Margiela womenswear pajamas now a bloomer-length Galliano-era Dior sailor uniform in eau de Nil powersuit-taffeta. Plan b’s a bribe from Papà too, a few years after the Barbara. My sister Dolly was conducting her season-long audition of suitors, another tradition established by Grandmama, wherein the eligible young lady devises various mentally, emotionally, physically, erotically, and spiritually gruelling trials to determine a fitting addition to our family. It wasn’t Dolly’s idea. She was quite happy terrorizing the debutante circuit, masterminding one of those Dangerous Liaisons x Saw gambits of which girls in my tax bracket are so inordinately fond. You should’ve seen Dolly work. If you did, you wouldn’t think poetry is dead. This, however, was an issue for the debutante parents, who begged (read: bribed) our parents to get her a husband, “for dart practice,” they moaned, some none-too-bright Twin Cities dauphin, the heir to a microwaveable cereal or a niche orthopedic insert, whom she could torture as she liked. This was my parents’ wager: If none of Dolly’s suitors made it through her audition, she could continue psychologically uprooting the prize roses of the one percent. Because they lived in fear of Dolly, this wager was a big deal to the Mephitis, and it wasn’t long before not a single Teething Jewel, Pubic Louse, or Lapdog hadn’t placed a bet on a suitor. I abstained, being too busy on the internet, inventing boys. By this point, I’d solved enough of the murders on Papà’s blog to confirm he hadn’t committed any of them, that he was only a sick fuck mentally, at least for now; I didn’t know how long he’d be gratified with merely posting on the serial killer “roleplay” forum, where he unveiled M.O.s completely different from the frou-frou meat-sculptures on his blog and kept his victim description vague, except for, you guessed it, one crucial detail. I tried luring him with fake profiles, pairing leaked high school photos of Midwest emo boy band bassists with the backstories of nepoticided puppet il-khans in Mongol Persia, spending hours Photoshopping their noses, but Papà rarely bit. The few times he did, he’d stop responding within one, two days at most. To be fair, he was distracted—Dolly had unveiled her audition for the season, which started with a dognapping competition and ended with a naked race by eclipse-light on human-subject-grade psychedelics through a rosebush labyrinth filled with nightmarish statuary—and Papà was very competitive about the suitor he’d bet on, a beautiful moron who looked like he had any number of cults vying to sacrifice his chiseled pushover body. As wordlessly as he’d gotten me to betray Mom for the Barbara, Papà let me know that if I helped his guy win, I’d get a handsome reward. This decision was much less morally fraught. Dolly picked guys like this out of her teeth; besides, maybe I could suss out Papà’s victim profile better in person. Predictably, I didn’t. I, too, was distracted, getting a little carried away scheming with Papà, so much so I also failed to realize his beautiful moron was no moron, but a formidable psychopath who’d figured out beautiful morons are treated like pet gods. On the night of the nude psychedelic nightmare run, Papà and I did so much ethically harvested adrenochrome with this guy he simply punched his way through the labyrinth. As Dolly rode off with the ersatz himbo in a baby-blue convertible, I was overcome with the then-irrational conviction that it was the last time I’d see my sister; for this reason I chose, for my reward, the orbitoclast that lobotomized, well, you know who—a gesture so tastelessly on-the-nose in its symbolism I’m surprised it was utterly lost on Papà. Having removed it from my boot, I now inch the orbitoclast up my nostril at an angle that will hopefully skewer the prune while eluding the important stuff. The point is shuddering against my septum when I hear footsteps on pool-tile. Although this is the worst possible time for another costume change, my Telfar Renaissance assassin boots become fluorescent persimmon elf-toed Balenciaga knife mules, which means they have no traction, so I tumble down, muddying the Salò-print UNDERCOVER snowboard suit into which my Galliano-era Dior sailor uniform has morphed, the orbitoclast unraveling my bandages in one elegant swoop, before I land, lips first, upon my reflection in a gibbous-lit puddle. xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx kisses me back. It’s crazy how a new nose can change your face, especially when paired with equally fey and pert jaw, lips, and forehead. The prune sludge leaking out of the doomed 21-year-old catboy’s left Peter Pan nostril brings out the pomegranate in my post-surgical black eyes, an effect I emphasize by demuring behind the opera glasses (you know, the only-non-[full]-blood-related-woman-ever-loved-etc. ones), toying with the little H charm on their side, which stands apocryphally for (duh) Habsburg. I’ve only had them for a year, since the abrupt departure from our house of _____, the latest in a long list of boarder-cousins foisted upon us by Grandmama. By then I’d become a recluse, spending all my waking hours trying to catfish Papà, only leaving my room at night, creeping emaciatedly along the corridors in a towel to raid our collection of artisanal floral jam, leaving the unwashed jars lying around my apparently bioluminescent-germ-infested room, where they incubated life, little velvet puddings that in the afternoons gleamed like dirty jewels or clean piss and at night glowed like poison. One night, hoping to switch an ill-chosen cornflower jam for the limited edition fermented rosebud-ivy mix from Mom and Papà’s 5th anniversary garden party, I heard a Pubic Louse (Grandmama’s 30-something boyfriend Jacques, a slime-tressed parvenu with absurd stepgrandfather delusions) and a Lapdog (long-time boarder-cousin Crescent) whispering about _____. Usually I wouldn’t have deigned to eavesdrop, but I’d swallowed a big spoonful of the rosebud-ivy mix, remembering too late that Mom and Papà’s 5th anniversary had been at the height of their psychonaut phase. With my third eyelid pliered off, I became convinced Jacques and Crescent held the key to the abyss-cathedral within me. So I stayed and listened. They were saying Grandmama had sent _____ to “quote-unquote ‘entice [me] out of this eunuchoid stupor.’” I saw red: people, let alone my grandmother, thought I could be pity-statutoried by some hussy-once-removedinto returning to sociability! So the next night, I had _____’s toilet clogged; afterwards I crept to the pantry to pick up a lavender-bergamot jam, which I scraped clean while squatting outside her room, in wait. Unfortunately, this jam was laced too (were none of my parents’ condiments safe?!), so at 3 AM  _____ found me sprawled against her door, fingers slick with lavender-speckled goo, the jar-edge drawing a sticky sickle on the floor. My eyes were all white, like a prophet’s, she told me later. My nosebleed had left a blackcurrant drizzle down my ribs. So _____ knelt down on the asymmetrically ruched, black-bow-échelled train of her orange velvet evening slip (vintage, designer unknown), put her face beneath the saintly droop of the dead sunflower of my face, dabbed clean a corner of nostril, and screamed, “WAKE THE FUCK UP ADRIAN!” I sat up, yelping. The slip slithered over my knees, the door slammed on my finger. I howled. “_____!” I screamed under the door. “I’m on to you, you freak! I have eyewitness accounts! I have—” whereupon she dragged me inside. “YOU think I don’t know YOU think I’M a PISS BABY CHAWITY CASE who needs GWANDMAMA to BLACKMAIL people into BEING HIS FWIENDS!” I screamed as she screamed “HOW’D you KNOW I’m a CORPORATE SPY!” as someone elsewhere in the house, someone with impressive breath control, screamed “SHUUT! THEE! FUUCK! UUP! AA! DRII! AAN!” At that, _____ and I found ourselves clutching each other, giggling. “I don’t think you’re a piss baby charity case,” said _____. “In fact, I heard you’re some kind of idiot savant aesthete, so hideously deformed they have to keep you locked away,” to which I said, “What is this? Am I being groomed? Are you grooming me,” to which she instantly let me go, scowling. I laughed, delighted. The lighting was the toxic lunar periwinkle of an anglerfish in a sick ocean, and it made us both look bitchy, uncanny, and overpriced, like a neo-giallo Korean revenge thriller acted out by fashion BJD. _____ handed me three spherical ice cubes in a crushed-silk-velvet sock the color of a cigarette-burned peach, for my finger, she said. The silk-velvet-filtered ice water lazily traced my path as I rifled through her closet, inquiring as to her flavor of corporate spy. She said she was here playing whistleblower because Grandmama was (she turned bright red) grooming (I started laughing again) her for Papà’s job. “Man, your dad sucks,” she said, inappropriately, as I held her watermelon tourmaline statement choker up to my neck. As I tried on her collection of secondhand engagement rings, batting my eyes at her in her mirror, I said, “I’m rooting for you.” Things continued in this manner, until 21 days after our fateful witching-hour meeting, when _____ walked in on me inventing a boy. She was like, “Oh are you a writer,” in this horrible too-neutral voice, to which I was like, “No I’m not a writer Im trying to catfish an inchoate serial killer yet to make his first kill,” to which she was like, “Well did you figure out his victim profile,” to which I was like, irritably, “Im getting there.” To which she said, “Gimme.” Obediently, I abdicated my throne (yes, a real throne, I surf the internet on a throne). When she reached the end of Roddin[sic]Enthusiast’s statuephilia fetish site profile, she paused, evidently in shock, long enough for me to begin fretting about whether I should do something drastic, like kiss her, but where it was clear the kiss took place in a pocket universe of irony where we were both performatively masculinity-secure heterosexual males instead of one flamingly pansexual woman plus one proudly homoflexible boy, when she clicked “create profile” and typed “xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx.” I sat like a bundle of après-Pilates laundry in the corner while she typed. When she was done, I walked through a Wong Kar Wai slow motion scene to my laptop. Somehow, even before I looked, I knew that xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx would be me, all of me, not just whatever glass slide of me _____ liked to take out and look at every day—only (and this was the part that hurt), she wouldn’t know it. “So, like, what do I message him,” I said in a more nakedly self-pitying voice than usual, but when I looked up, all I saw was one salmon stiletto and a Xanadu-grey marabou boa centipeding elegantly out the door. The statuephilia fetish app chirped. Messaging with xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx, Roddin[sic]Enthusiast was the most responsive he’d ever been—within 2 weeks, he was asking for a late-night phone call. I agreed, panicking. I’d gotten so used to catfishing Papà unsuccessfully, I guess I’d thought we’d be doing this for years, Papà never killing a boy, me circling ever-closer to his victim profile until, on his 80th birthday, he finally wants to try murder, so I gift-wrap for example an insolent nepotism intern, whose murder Papà is unable to carry out in his doddering dotage, forcing me to kill the intern, in his honor but also practically. So when Papà called me, I froze. I sat there, gulping, listening to the blood in my ears, until I heard, sotto voce, “Papà.” Only of course it wasn’t Papà'' the new voice said, but his name, pronounced so deliciously it made him forget to hang up. Something made me stay on the line. I realized what I was hearing. So Papà was having an affair! I thought, gleefully nauseated, a longone, from the sounds of it, and, most hilariously, one involving love—true, tender, requited, unconditional love! I cackled with relief. So all this serial killer stuff was merely an egregiously sustained adultery-guilt metaphor! It wasn’t until Papà’s lover lit a post-coital cigarette, exhaling my name, that I realized it was _____. The next day, I made her listen to the whole thing while I watched her face. Afterwards, she took my hands. “Listen, you little bitch,” she said. “I’m gonna be your stepmom, and then you and I are gonna depose him, and then we’re gonna rule the world.” I even believed her, almost. Then I said, “Where did you learn that line, uh, uh, Grooming for Dummies?” And we flew at each other, hissing, like Miss American Vampire 2nd and 3rd runners-up. When she had me pinned against the armoire, I whispered in her ear, in luxuriant detail, what would happen if she didn’t excommunicate herself from the family at once. I said, “The man you love wants to kill little boys.” I showed her my proof. “Now get the fuck out.” On the threshold, one foot on granite, she stopped, because I made her. “Give me a token,” I said. She looked at me blankly. “You know, like for a deal well-struck. Like I’m a corrupt Pope and you’re a piece of simonious scum.” She gave me a look full of spit. “I’m serious!” I said. Then she was throwing an H-for-Habsburg-monogrammed something at my head, giving me (surprisingly) my first black eye, the memory of which still makes me shiver, barely perceptibly, as I train the ill-begotten things on the pool tiles where Papà intends to bronze-cast a xXx_Geefs_slut_666_xXx-faced me alive. Ah, there he is, my at-last homicidal Papà. He’s pacing up and down, spiritually fighting himself, wringing his hands à la Lady Macbeth, but where! The fuck! Are his bronze-casting materials?! What’s he playing at?! Enraged, I whip out my phone to DM him on the statuephilia fetish site. That’s when I see the notification for Roddin[sic]Enthusiast’s message: “Dont come i h8 u >:(.” And then, somehow, I hear it. The click. Of the trigger. Like, of a gun. Even though, when I look up, Papà is still scratching his head with the pistol grip and reading the back of the ammo box. My fall had only taken me halfway down the mountain. There’s no time to scheme. I roll up the coprophagic-nubiles-patterned sleeves of my Salò-print UNDERCOVER snowboard suit. I brush the peat off the bandages and re-swaddle my new face. I inhale deeply. Start to roll. It hurts. It’s filthy. My mouth fills with dead leaves, worms, dirt; I’m pretty sure I flatten my new nose; I’m rolling so fast it’s like I’m reading a flipbook of Papà’s milestones in firearm mastery. I’m ten meters away when the barrel is snug inside his cheeks. “DAD!” I bellow. He looks up. I crash into his chest, luciferously. The gun sinks, lost forever, to the bottom of the abattoir. Somehow, I have fallen exactly so that Papà and I are doing the Pietà. Cradling my neck, staring at his number one boy with inarticulable sorrow, Papà pulls out a bottle shaped like a cannibal dowager empress’ eternal-youth potion. Then he turns his head, looks you dead in the eye, and says, “Mirror. The new eau de parfum. For princes.”


Fruity Oriental



plum, moat water, Siberian deer musk,

 spilled nail polish, candied violets


beeswax,frankincense, upturned loam,

roses, gasoline, baby’s breath, antiseptic


lavender, bergamot,

 cigarette (peach-flavored, kiss-stained),

melting ice, gunpowder (unsparked)